Passionate About Education, Samantha Williams Becomes Executive Director at Birmingham Promise
By Guest Writer
Birmingham Promise is an organization based in Alabama dedicated to supporting and preparing Birmingham City School students for a prosperous future. By providing opportunities for students through internships and apprenticeships, and supporting graduates with up to four years of tuition assistance, Birmingham Promise proves its commitment to students in their city. Earlier this year, Edgility helped Birmingham Promise’s team search for a new Executive Director to lead this life-changing organization with passion, empathy, experience, and a deep connection to learning.
A Leader with a Passion for Education
Chairman of the Birmingham Promise board of directors, Leroy Abrahams was “thrilled by the caliber of applicants for this job” (Birmingham Times, 2022), but, it was clear that one candidate stood out above the rest. Edgility is proud to have placed Samantha Williams as Executive Director of Birmingham Promise. She is a passionate advocate for education and community. We are excited to see her lead the organization in providing college and career opportunities to students, a mission she believes will be “transformational to the future of Birmingham.” Williams grew up south of Birmingham, on Mobile Bay. Returning home with a breadth of experience, knowledge, and passion for education, she seeks to build upon Birmingham Promise’s program. Recently, she shared her outlook on her program’s future, “I want us to be talking to kids earlier and earlier, working as closely as possible with the Birmingham City Schools (BCS) system, so that this feels like it’s something that is just a guaranteed promise, real promise at the end.” (Birmingham Times, 2022)
From Southern Alabama to South Africa
Williams is focused and passionate and has the life experience to relate to many of the students she now serves. She was a young woman from a small town in Southern Alabama who aspired to continue her studies and succeeded in graduating from several prestigious programs. She is an alumna of the Harvard School of Education, where she studied International Education Policy, the University of the Witwatersrand, where she focused on Developmental Studies, and Georgetown University, where she graduated with a BA in History.
Her commitment to pursuing her education isn’t the only thing that makes Williams stand out. From 2009-2010, she worked with the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, empowering young women to soar to success in South Africa. Her passion for scholarship and empowerment through learning led her to become a Graduation Coach Specialist at the Communities in Schools for Georgia from 2006-2008 and later the Rotary Ambassador Scholar for Rotary International from 2008-2009. Then, after spending a decade in South Africa working with young people and helping to empower them through education, Williams returned home to Alabama.
Support from Her Predecessor
While William’s predecessor, Rachel Harmon, was sad to leave, she believed Williams was “the clear choice to help Birmingham Promise expand its community, educational and corporate partnerships to advance opportunities for Birmingham’s students.” Harmon stated she was “beyond excited to be passing the baton to Samantha Williams […] she is an exemplary, principled leader and I know that with her at the helm, the future is bright for Birmingham Promise” (Birmingham Times, 2022). Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin, the leader of the administration who started Birmingham Promise in 2020 gave Williams a glowing endorsement to the Birmingham Times. “Birmingham Promise is poised to move to an entirely new level with Ms. Williams at the helm, and my administration will continue to be completely invested as a partner in making that happen.” (Birmingham Times, 2022). We are excited to see where Williams will take Birmingham Promise during her tenure as Executive Director.
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“I love that the people and orgs I work with aren’t happy with marginal improvements – they are working toward ambitious outcomes that will have significant, even life-changing impact for and with the communities they serve.”